We’ve had a long, not-anything-resembling-awesome week, he and I. It’s been a special kind of hell, really. Full of hard conversations and second-guessing ourselves and deeply rooted fear of letting people down and wrestling the darkness that threatens to consume us all from time to time.
So he’s lying there on the floor of our apartment, which hasn’t been vacuumed in an ungodly number of weeks and I have watched the past seven days slowly drain the life out of his eyes. And he and I, deep down, both believe that it’s possible to rejoice in trials, but really? Sometimes even if you wanted to rejoice, you have no energy left to do it with. And so you stop to catch a breath, because that’s all you’ve got. And I’m convinced that, more often than we naturally believe, that’s exactly what rejoicing looks like. The glorious moment of surrender when you hit the end of your rope and your back hits the floor and you give in to a not-so-Sunday kind of Sabbath, trust that God is fully capable of keeping the world turning with or without your help.
And watching him lie there, my own heart rejoices in a quiet, exhausted way. I traipse barefoot into the bathroom and grab the coconut oil. Walk steady back into the living room and settle myself cross-legged at his feet. I pull his socks off, and blue eyes flutter open. He asks what I’m doing.
The only response I can come up with is this.
Because this past week isn’t one for the fairy tale storybooks, isn’t one burning with the fire of passionate emotion, isn’t one which expresses love in sonnets. This is the kind of season when all love knows how to do is act, rather than feel or speak. The kind of week when all love can give is a foot rub.
So while he rests, I sit there at his feet, rubbing them and closing my eyes. For a minute, the coconut smell embraces me with the thought that maybe, just maybe, I’m rubbing his feet on a beach in Cancun. I smile wide, eyes closed. No magic has been done, and we’re still on the dirty carpet of our apartment. But loving him changes things, slow and steady. And I wonder for a minute if this is how she felt, sitting at the feet of Jesus, covering them in perfume and her hair. Giving something that felt like ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, knowing it was all the love-in-action she possessed. I can identify with her, the joy in serving Him, coupled with what had to be a little bit of remorse at the fact that this was all she had to give. I can identify with her because this man, whose feet I rub after a week that felt like a year, he has been Jesus wrapped in skin to me on so many days. And there are a billion other things I wish I could do to breathe life back into him when his heart is so very tired. But this thing, this quiet giving in this quiet moment, is enough.
And it’s funny…I feel it happening, sitting there and actively loving him in a silent apartment that still looks like we just moved in a week ago. Feel fists unclenching, knuckles turning pink as they regain blood flow. The knots in my chest loosen, and I start to breathe easier than I have in days. Nothing has changed and everything has at the same time.
Love, this love in action, really does change everything, and not in the way the fairy tales tell it. It doesn’t always change life itself, but it sure does change the way you look at it.